Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume III/Anti-Marcion/The Prescription Against Heretics/Chapter XXXIV

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Chapter XXXIV.—No Early Controversy Respecting the Divine Creator; No Second God Introduced at First. Heresies Condemned Alike by the Sentence and the Silence of Holy Scripture.

These are, as I suppose, the different kinds of spurious doctrines, which (as we are informed by the apostles themselves) existed in their own day.  And yet we find amongst so many various perversions of truth, not one school[1] which raised any controversy concerning God as the Creator of all things. No man was bold enough to surmise a second god. More readily was doubt felt about the Son than about the Father, until Marcion introduced, in addition to the Creator, another god of goodness only.  Apelles made the Creator of some nondescript[2] glorious angel, who belonged to the superior God, the god (according to him,) of the law and of Israel, affirming that he was fire.[3] Valentinus disseminated his Æons, and traced the sin of one Æon[4] to the production of God the Creator. To none, forsooth, except these, nor prior to these, was revealed the truth of the Divine Nature; and they obtained this especial honour and fuller favour from the devil, we cannot doubt,[5] because he wished even in this respect to rival God, that he might succeed, by the poison of his doctrines, in doing himself what the Lord said could not be done—making “the disciples above their Master.”[6] Let the entire mass[7] of heresies choose, therefore, for themselves the times when they should appear, provided that the when be an unimportant point; allowing, too, that they be not of the truth, and (as a matter of course[8]) that such as had no existence in the time of the apostles could not possibly have had any connection with the apostles. If indeed they had then existed, their names would be extant,[9] with a view to their own repression likewise.  Those (heresies) indeed which did exist in the days of the apostles, are condemned in their very mention.[10] If it be true, then, that those heresies, which in the apostolic times were in a rude form, are now found to be the same, only in a much more polished shape, they derive their condemnation from this very circumstance. Or if they were not the same, but arose afterwards in a different form, and merely assumed from them certain tenets, then, by sharing with them an agreement in their teaching,[11] they must needs partake in their condemnation, by reason of the above-mentioned definition,[12] of lateness of date, which meets us on the very threshold.[13] Even if they were free from any participation in condemned doctrine, they would stand already judged[14] on the mere ground of time, being all the more spurious because they were not even named by the apostles. Whence we have the firmer assurance, that these were (the heresies) which even then,[15] were announced as about to arise.


Footnotes[edit]

  1. Institutionem.
  2. Nescio quem.
  3. Igneum, “consisted of fire.”
  4. “The ectroma, or fall of Sophia from the Pleroma, from whom the Creator was fabled to be descended” (Dodgson).
  5. Scilicet.
  6. Luke vi. 40.
  7. Universæ.
  8. Utique.
  9. Nominarentur et ipsæ.
  10. Nominatione, i.e. by the apostles.
  11. Prædicationis.
  12. Fine.
  13. Præcedente.
  14. Præjudicarentur. [i.e. by Præscription.]
  15. i.e., in the days of the apostles, and by their mouth.